CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks would like to have Marian Hossa in their lineup, even if the injured forward isn’t a regular participant in practice.
Hossa didn’t skate with teammates Friday but is expected to play in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
“Hossa’s fine,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “Very happy to use him whatever number, you want to say percentage, that he’s ready at.”
Hossa was a late scratch for Game 3 Monday after taking part in warm-ups. He played in Game 4 despite not being 100 per cent.
Hossa played 19:07 Wednesday night, and Quenneville liked his contributions enough that his expectations for the 34-year-old have not dropped.
“We expect him to be the same,” Quenneville said. “I think that one thing about Hossa, production offensively or responsibility defensively, complementing our team game in all facets of the game is what we look for. That consistency of what he brings day in, day out to our game is what makes him a special player and a valuable addition to our team.”
Quenneville expects Hossa to be feeling more “comfortable” going into Game 5 than he had been. If he’s anywhere close to being his normal self, it’s a boon for the Blackhawks.
“He’s great at all ends of the ice,” forward Andrew Shaw said. “He’s great on the backcheck, he picks pucks off guys. He strips them good, he’s smart defensively and he’s smart offensively. Obviously he’s going to score those big goals, too.”
The Blackhawks have not been willing to disclose what is bothering Hossa. That he’s playing through the injury is impressive to teammates.
“It just shows he’s got heart, he’s got character,” Shaw said. “He wants to win just as badly as everyone else does in this room, and he’s willing to do it at all costs.”